HAASIL (2003)

  • Release Date: 16/05/2003
  • Cast: Irrfan, Jimmy Sheirgill, Hrishita Bhatt, Ashutosh Rana
  • Written and Directed by : Tigmanshu Dhulia

Haasil is Tigmanshu Dhulia’s debut and it was a ravishing one at that. Haasil along with Black Friday, Gulaal, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi and Gangs Of Wasseypur Saga kind of sums up the renaissance of the modern Indian cinema for me. While Haasil was a commercial failure and was hardly noticed at the time of its release, it has over the years garnered a strong and devoted fan following owing to its uncanny treatment of an intriguing subject matter, a terrific Irrfan (this film announced his arrival in the big league) and some spellbinding dialogues that have websites devoted to them.

Ranvijay Singh (Irrfan) sees himself as the president of an unnamed university somewhere around Allahabad and enjoying every bit of power that comes with the position. The man standing in his path is Gauri Shankar (Ashutosh Rana), the local leader and a close aide of the Chief Minister. Ranvijay kills a major player of the Gauri Shankar team and as an act of retaliation, Gauri kills multiple people of Ranvijay’s village in a massacre. Ranvijay is distraught and in his pain, he vows revenge. Somewhere around the same period, Ranvijay meets Niharika (Hrishita Bhatt) during one of his tussles with Gauri Shankar’s men and is instantly smitten by her.

Niharika, on the other hand, falls for the innocent and romantic Annirudha (Jimmy Sheirgill) who happens to be someone who has a lot of respect for Ranvijay Singh. He is also in love with Niharika but the two are from different casts which casts a looming shadow on the future of their relationship. Things soon heat up as Ranvijay kills Gauri Shankar and takes over his coveted seat of the President of the University He does so after killing Gauri Shankar on the day he said he would. Aniruddha who is now in Ranvijay’s shadow is constantly helped by him including in arranging a secluded place for his meetings with Niharika. Little does he know that Ranvijay has schemes of his own.

Haasil stands on three pillars. The absorbing plot, the simmering Irrfan performance, and the terrific dialogues. Seldom, have I been intrigued as much by a plot as I was with Haasil. I bought a VCD of the film which unfortunately was the only version available and kept revisiting it again and again and again. I wanted to write this review long back but I just didn’t think that I was fully prepared to address every aspect of this film in a manner that would satisfy me, let alone get my mind around it completely. Hence I kept revisiting it. Even now, I don’t think I have got this film completely.

The plot is exhaustively laid out and there are multiple tracks running parallel to each other, finally culminating in the grand finale. What I loved about Haasil was the simplicity that the film brings to the table even though it is loaded with plot elements, twists and turns, and colorful characters. Every element is in measured portions and makes perfect sense. I would go to the extent of saying that almost every subplot bears in on the tale in some way or the other and is integral to the grand story. The manner in which the plot unfolds is also extremely life-like and peppered with little nuggets of things that make the setting and the happenings real and puts fingers on things that make them special.

Irrfan is exceptional in this film. The presence of a lead pair and an extremely interesting Ashutosh Rana cannot keep his charm at bay. From the moment he appears on screen, he literally owns the film. The first time we see him, he is running from Gauri Shankar’s men through the university in a manner that will be remembered as much for the way the scene is shot as for the mannerism and mojo that the character brings with it. There are just a handful of slow-motion shots of Ranvijay in the film and each of them leaves a mark. Irrfan’s dialogues breathe fire as much for the way they are written as for the way they are delivered. When he opens his mouth for the first time in front of Gauri’s men, he tells them to kill him because if they don’t he won’t waste a second to waste them when he gets the opportunity. The ferocity with which he says the words make it evident that he will actually do it and he does. The scene where he is restrained by his fellows when he learns of the massacre at his village is another sublime sequence. Ditto can be said about his interactions with the CM and his comic scenes with Annirudha. One conversation that I found particularly interesting was the one where he learns that Aniruddha and Niharika are a couple. The first question he asks is if they have already had sex or not clearly showing his intent for the girl. The film is peppered with such subtle nuances in Irrfan’s essay that make this film special.

Jimmy Sheirgill is apt in a role that is almost tailor-made for him. He acts well too but the problem with his character is that it is written in such a manner that he forever remains in the shadows of Irrfan. Even in the end when he is landing blows on Irrfan, it’s more interesting to see Irrfan losing then it is to see him winning. He shares a nice chemistry with Hrishita Bhatt and they truly feel like an in love couple. This helps the films’ cause immensely. Ditto can be said about Hrishita Bhatt who not only looks the part but also acts the part. The only complaint is not with her but with the one who designed her costumes as they don’t look anything like what a girl from such a conservative family would wear.

Niharika (asks a rickshaw puller): “arey itni saari ghantiya kyu lagayi hai is rickshaw mein” (why have you put so many bells and whistles in this rickshaw)

Rickshaw Puller (replies candidly): Madam, rickshaw Jawan hai, nai sajayenge to naraz ho jayegi (Madam, the rickshaw is young, if I don’t decorate her, she will be angry)

The above lines give you a taste of the kind of intelligent dialog that this film has even in scenes that are not key. As I mentioned before this film has websites dedicated to its dialogs and this unprecedented fan following is for all the right reasons. If we are to fully understand the impact of this film, we have to understand the power and charisma of the dialogs that this film has to offer. The words not only flow through the character but they hit their mark with panache and power.

Haasil is a must watch for every Hindi Film buff and even a film buff in general. Even though the film gets tedious here and there only and only because of the songs, it will also find takers in western audiences who by the way might just miss the subtle nuances that made this film special for me. It’s not their fault. The fact of the matter is that Haasil is so rooted in Indian-ness that one has to have some idea about the milieu that it is set in to enjoy it fully. For the Indian moviegoers, I believe this is a film worth revisiting and cherishing.

Rating : 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)

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